You feel like you’ve read hundreds of articles on Facebook Ads best practices, but none of these seem to help?
Your campaigns still fail to take off after publishing and deliver the results you hoped for?
You’re not alone in this. Even after months of publishing Facebook ads, marketers struggle with creating high-conversion ad campaigns.
So what are we all doing wrong?
This article’s not about the obvious Facebook Ads mistakes that point out the problems and leave you wondering how to fix them.
Instead, we’ll point out 22 simple yet overlooked reasons why your Facebook ad campaigns fail. And to really help you fix the problem, we’ll also share tips on how to get your campaigns running full-speed.
Ready to really fix your poorly performing ad campaigns? Let’s roll!
1. Slow campaign take-off
Slow campaign take-off is a problem that not many marketers talk about, but all of them struggle with (don’t be shy! if you’ve experienced it before, just leave us a note in the comments, I’d love to hear your stories on this).
As I started managing Facebook ads for our company Scoro, we were pretty disappointed about our initial ad results. Or the lack of them, to be honest.
If you look at this graph you can see why we were initially caught off guard – our ad campaigns failed to take off.
That’s what the Wright brothers must have felt when their airplanes failed at the take-off. Just like those planes, our ad campaigns made a few take-off attempts. They all failed.
Why do your campaigns fail and how to fix it:
There were multiple factors that contributed to our ad campaigns’ poor performance. Here are the most notable ones:
- Too many ad groups of A/B test variations with low budgets
- Bad choice of ad images
- Low relevance of ads (= bad audience targeting)
- Using the wrong bidding options
- Being impatient and making rapid changes
We’re going to talk about fixing all of these mistakes throughout the article. Right now, I’d like to share the one small change that got our ad campaigns up and running.
We applied an FTO (Fast Take-Off) mindset to our ad bidding.
Here’s how the FTO method works:
- Assign Lifetime budgets that cross your planned budget – you need about 10 000 impressions to evaluate which ads work and which don’t. So you want Facebook to use more resources at the beginning of the campaign. For example, use a $2000 budget instead of the planned $400, just to get things rolling.
- Facebook rarely uses the total daily budget. Unless your ads are super relevant to your target audience, Facebook shows the ads less often than you’d like. To serve your ads to more people at the beginning of the campaign, increase your initial budget and expand the audience size for a week.
Now I’m not saying it’s the only right way to get your campaigns up and running, but it will surely give a boost to your ad delivery.
2. Costly ad bidding
Have you ever considered that your Facebook ads might be failing due to poor bidding decisions?
We keep blaming our ad images and ad copy for low campaign performance, but what if the problem lies somewhere deeper?
Most of the Facebook Ads Best Practices guides recommend that you optimize your ads for conversions and as a rookie, use an automatic bidding (auction). But Facebook won’t know who’s likely to convert with your ads right as you start. It needs to gather some data first.
What Facebook does know is who’s more likely to click on your ads. So here’s a recommendation to get your ads delivered faster and to more people:
When starting a new campaign, set the Optimization for Ad Delivery goals to Link-Clicks-to-Website.
While our newly-published ad campaigns were optimized for Conversions (trial signups), we had nearly no results and fewer ad impressions as Facebook evaluated the ads to be less relevant. After changing the pricing model to be optimized for Link Clicks, we saw a huge spike in both our ads’ relevance score and click-through-rates.
Keep testing various bidding methods.
At the beginning of a new ad campaign, opt for CPM or Clicks-To-Website pricing goals and let Facebook learn about your audience’s preferences before optimizing for Conversions.
Here’s another tip: If you create a Facebook ad campaign for an ebook, infographic or other highly engaging content, CPM bidding is often cheaper than paying for website clicks.
By using the CPM bidding, we were able to get clicks to our website for as low as €0.067 (as you can see, the CPC rose quickly, that’s why you need to tweak your campaigns).
3. Your ads are irrelevant to your audience
You’ve probably heard of Facebook ads relevance score. In case you haven’t, it’s a 1-10 number that shows how relevant your ad is to your target audience. And having a low relevance score can cost you A LOT.
Here’s an example by AdEspresso:
This ad had a relevance score of 2.9 points. It costed an average of $0.142 per website click.
This is the exact same ad but targeted to a Website Custom Audience made out of users who visited AdEspresso’s website in the last 90 days. This ad had a relevance score of 8.0 points and its cost-per-click was $0.03. That’s a 473% difference!
Facebook calculates relevance score based on the positive and negative feedback the ad gets. If your ad fails to attract engagement (likes, clicks, and conversions), Facebook will give it a low relevance score.
Ads that have a low relevance score are delivered to a smaller audience and a higher cost-per-result.
According to Facebook: “Put simply, the higher an ad’s relevance score is, the less it will cost to be delivered. This is because our ad delivery system is designed to show the right content to the right people, and a high relevance score is seen by the system as a positive signal”.
4. People are tired of seeing your ads
In addition to low relevance score, there might be another monster hiding in the closet. It is called Ad Fatigue. Ad fatigue is the symptom of people seeing your ads for multiple times. A high ad frequency means that the same user has seen a particular ad for already 5 or 10 times.
If someone has seen your ad for over three times and still not clicked on it, chances are they’re not interested in it. That’s when you start losing money by delivering ads to an uninterested audience.
AdEspresso’s team analyzed how Facebook ad frequency affects the click-through rate, cost-per-click, and cost-per-conversion of ad campaigns. Here’s what they found:
When people saw the same ads twice, the CTR decrease was 8.91%. But when shown repetitive ads for four times, the CTR was already 23.34% higher.
How to avoid the Ad Fatigue monster and keep your cost-per-click low:
The easiest way to do it is by setting up optimization rules based on ad frequency.
For example, here’s how the rule looks in AdEspresso. You can apply it to every campaign in a few clicks.
Need more ideas on how to fight ad fatigue? You can read all about it by clicking here.
5. Leaving campaigns on their own
Facebook ads are like pets – they need constant attention. If you leave your campaigns unattended, the cost-per-click will soon skyrocket.
AdEspresso learned this lesson the hard way. They set up well-performing ad campaigns and left the running for several months.
Here’s AdEspresso’s CEO Massimo Chieruzzi: “Our cost per conversion had increased ten times in just a few months! While, through split testing, I had found a great design and an audience that loved our product… it was a very small audience! Throwing a lot of money at this small audience, we soon saturated it after only two months, wasting a load of money in the process.
Ad campaigns’ cost-per-click can raise pretty quickly. For example, one of our ad sets had a CPC of $0.29 on May 1 but steadily climbed to $0.59 in just one month.
Don’t make the same mistake. Check your ads’ performance every day, and as you see your cost-per-click rising, it’s time to take action and start optimizing.
6. Not optimizing campaigns
If Bill Gates walks into a bar, on average, everybody in the bar is a millionaire. Funny, huh?
But the reason I wanted to tell you this little joke is to remind you of its bias. What if your ad campaign is full of low-performing ads, with only one superstar ad keeping the boat afloat?
Some ads work well while others don’t. And the low-performers are also bringing down your superstars.
Here’s a Facebook ad results chart from one of our campaigns at Scoro.
Notice how different click-through rates and cost-per-clicks these ad sets have. You wouldn’t like to keep running the ad set with €1.12 cost-per-click if other ads have a CPC of €0.41.
Without running an A/B test and keeping our eyes on the results, we wouldn’t have been able to discover that one ad visual outperformed the other by 38.5%in terms of CTR and by 90% regarding the CPC.
Key takeaway: Frequently check your ad campaigns to get rid the low-performers and give the high-performers a boost.
7. Concluding A/B tests too early
I won’t mention “not A/B testing your ads” as a separate mistake, as everybody already knows how important it is. But what you might not know yet is that you’re A/B testing your ads the wrong way.
The three deadly sins of A/B testing:
8. A/B testing mistake 1: testing too many ad variations at once
While it’s tempting to create 100 different ad variations and instantly see which headline, ad image, and call-to-action work best, it’s a bad idea. Why? Because you don’t have enough budget for it.
You need to allocate enough budget to each ad set to reach enough impressions and clicks for statistical significance.
9. A/B testing mistake 2: the results aren’t statistically significant
Many marketers make the mistake of jumping to early conclusions.
You shouldn’t conclude an A/B test unless it has reached 10,000 impressions and 500 clicks (the same rule applies to your website A/B testing).
Here’s a great article by ConversionXL, explaining how to get statistically valid A/B testing results.
10. A/B testing mistake 3: You stop testing
After you’ve found out which ad image works, you stop testing.
But after your target audience has seen the high-performing ad image for a few months, they’ll get bored with it. That’s why you need to create new A/B tests to see whether your current ad elements are still the best ones to use.
11. Making changes too quickly
We’re used to rapid changes and instant gratification in all aspects of our lives. So it’s easy to get impatient if your Facebook ads don’t deliver the expected results.
Before you change a campaign parameter such as the bidding method or placement, give Facebook at least 24 hours to adapt to your previous campaign changes.
According to Facebook: “It takes our ad delivery system 24 hours to adjust the performance level for your ad. It can take longer when you edit your ad frequently. To fix it, let your ad run for at least 24 hours before you edit it again. “
While our ads’ cost-per-click made a sharp increase at the beginning of the campaign, Facebook’s algorithms soon adjusted the ad delivery, and the CPC normalized again.
12. Too much text on the ad image
Another reason why your ad campaigns might experience a slow delivery rate is the 20% text rule.
While Facebook announced that the 20% text rule is gone, having text in your ad image still decreases your delivery rate and increases the cost-per-click.
It happens quite a lot. You set up an ad campaign that seems to be working well at the beginning. But Facebook will soon decide that your ad image contains too much text and will stop delivering it to people.
How to avoid the “Too much text in image” problem:
The answer’s quite obvious: use less text in ad images. If you need to include text, frequently check whether your ad’s being delivered at a normal rate.
13. Targeting the wrong audience
It is easy to blame your poor ad performance on targeting the wrong audience. But what exactly is wrong about your audience?
Up next, we’ll share the three most common Facebook audience targeting mistakes (and show you how to fix them).
14. Audience targeting mistake 1: Targeting cold leads
Johnathan Dane from a popular PPC agency KlientBoost wrote a great article on how to align people’s expectation with your PPC strategy.
The reason why some of your Facebook ad campaigns fail is that your offers don’t align with your audience’s expectations.
To fix this mistake, think where in the sales funnel your different target audiences are. Create separate ad campaigns for increasing brand awareness and for getting interested people sign up or buy your product.
Think about it this way: How hot are the leads you’re targeting? Ice cubes are the people who have never heard about your product before. Lava signifies a highly interested audience who only needs a little nudge to buy your product.
15. Audience targeting mistake 2: targeting a too wide audience
While a large audience is a great way to get fast results for your A/B tests, the chances are that your ads are delivered to people not interested in your offer.
A too wide audience targeting leads to lower ad relevance score, which leads to higher cost-per-click.
Use interest-based and behavioural targeting to narrow down your audience to under 100 000 people.
16. Audience targeting mistake 3: Not excluding custom audiences
After analyzing over 400 ads and more than 1.6 billion ad impressions, this is certainly one of the mistakes I look back at and regret the most.
By excluding custom audiences, you can avoid showing your ads to the people who have already acted upon them. Safe to say that this will save you hundreds of advertising dollars.
Here’s how to exclude custom audiences:
Exclude people who have already visited specific landing pages – target them with a retargeting campaign instead – you’re likely to get more conversions and less bored ad-viewers.
Tip: When promoting blog content and eBooks, don’t forget to target people who already read your blog. It turns out when you target Facebook ads to fans, you get 700% more click-throughs, according to the data by Webtrends.
17. Using the wrong ad placement
Sometimes, all it takes to improve your Facebook ad campaign’s performance is to change the ad placement.
But there are so many options to choose from!
AdEspresso’s report on 2016 Q2 Facebook advertising costs showed that cost-per-click of most ad placements has increased. So you’ll want to be smart about your ad placement choices.
When starting with Facebook ads at Scoro, we conducted an A/B test of Facebook Desktop vs. Mobile ad placement.
What we learned was that while Mobile ads got tons of more clicks (at a lower cost-per-click), Desktop campaigns were the ones that managed to attract conversions and helped to acquire new leads.
Remember: Measure the performance of various advertising channels by cost-per-conversion, not cost-per-mile or cost-per-clicks.
18. Ad image that fails to catch attention
Facebook News Feed is a crowded place. Open it, and you’ll see hundreds of images at once. So you need to make sure that your ad image stands out from the crowd.
You should always use an image in your Facebook ads (and other posts). According to HubSpot, Facebook photos generate twice as high engagement as an average post with text.
To find the best ad image, I urge you to test, test, and test. You don’t need to make huge changes every time you conduct an image A/B test. A small tweak might be all it takes.
Here’s a selection of the ad visuals we tested with Scoro:
I’m convinced that hadn’t we tested all these images, we would’ve missed a huge opportunity to improve our ad campaigns’ cost-per-conversion.
Here are three great articles to help you design better Facebook ad images:
16 (9 + 7) Secrets the Pros Use to Create Great Facebook Ad Designs
If You’re Unsure, Follow the Best – 15 Inspiring Facebook Ad Campaigns From Beloved Brands
8 Authentic Ways to Align Your Facebook Ads With Your Brand Design
19. Bad landing page experience
You probably think that your landing page experience won’t affect your Facebook ads’ cost-per-click. But that’s untrue.
In fact, your landing page experience contributes to the number of your ad conversions and thereby is a part of your ads’ relevance score equation.
Poor landing page experience = lower ad relevance score.
It’s important that your ads’ value offers and call-to-actions are aligned with the ones that people will find on your landing page.
For example, this ad by Scoro uses a straightforward value proposition “Bring structure to your work.”
As you click on the ad, it takes you to a landing page with the same value offer.
Each time your create an ad campaign with different messaging and value offers, make sure that you have a corresponding landing page for people to land after clicking your ads.
I recently wrote an in-depth post on 12 Facebook ads landing page mistakes. You can read it here.
To keep this guide in a reasonable length, here are all the mistakes listed (see the article to read about solutions)
- Bad first impression
- Your ads and landing page call-to-actions don’t scale
- Your messages are targeting everyone, not a specific audience
- You’re using an unclear value proposition
- Your call-to-actions are confusing people
- You’ve got a poor mobile experience
- Your landing page and ad designs are unaligned
- You’re using no images
- You’re using the wrong images
- There are no images of your product
- Your opt-in forms and sign-up boxes are hard to find
- Too long FBI-worthy opt-in forms
20. Poorly written ad copy
There are multiple reasons why your ad copy might be killing your ad conversions.
Here are some of the most common reasons why people don’t like your ads:
- Your offer’s not aligned with your target audience’s expectations
- Your ad text is boring
- You have no clear value offer
- Your ad text ignites no emotions
- There’s no social proof
- The promises of your ad copy do not align with your landing page
Writing good ad copy starts with understanding who your audience is. If you’ve found your core buyers, you’ll be able to see what their problems are and create an offer that helps them to solve their problem.
Finding the right headline is a matter of hundreds of dollars. After running an A/B test with 10 771 impressions, we discovered that one headline outperformed another by 31%.
Here’s a great example of a high-performing ad copy:
Four elements that make Uber’s ad highly engaging:
- Th ad copy is short, clear, and easy to follow
- The text on ad image asks an interesting question
- There’s an actionable call-to-action in the headline (Sign up today!)
- Ad text explains the nature of Uber’s business model for those not yet familiar with it
Learn more about writing THE perfect ad copy: 11 Formulas and Strategies to Write Irresistible Ad Headlines
21. Too long ad texts
Another mistake that’s often ruining your ad campaigns is getting too carried away when writing your ad copy.
People don’t have the time to read a 150-word text about your product’s benefits. They want to have a quick understanding of whether they should or shouldn’t click on your ad.
Writing shorter posts isn’t just handy on Twitter. According to Track Social, keeping your Facebook posts (and ads) below 250 characters can get you 60% more engagement. You can even get up to 66% more engagement if you cut it down to less than 80 characters.
If you’re unsure where to start, take a look at this ad by LinkedIn: Its texts are short and straightforward, making it easy to see what the offer’s about.
22. Using the wrong (or no) CTA
Your ad might have a great image and a compelling text, but if you’re unclear what action you’d like people to take, they’ll just move on to the next post in their News Feed.
The most effective call-to-action texts have been discussed many times before. According to research by AdEspresso, the best-performing call-to-actions are“Learn More”, “Sign Up”, and “Shop Now”.
Just to be sure, we conducted an additional A/B test: “Sign Up” vs. “Learn More”.
We learned that the “Learn More” CTA had a 22.5% higher click-through rate. But before you change all your CTAs to “Learn More”, read this: The “Sign Up” CTA had a 14.5% higher conversion rate.
As your ads’ end goal is usually getting people to sign up or buy, it’s the conversions that matter, not the CTR.
Be clear with your call-to-actions and make sure that they describe what people will find on your ad’s landing page.
There are many factors that might lead to Facebook ad campaign’s failure. By avoiding the 22 mistakes mentioned in this article, you’ll be able to keep your cost-per-click and cost-per-conversion significantly lower.
We’d love to hear what other mistakes and problems you’re experiencing with Facebook ads. Share your questions and concerns in the comments section and we’ll do our best to help you!